What kind of songs make us better worshipers? — Hugh Wetmore

Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.

In February, this Column bust the myth that “worship” = “singing in church”.  In March we learned that, though singing itself is not worship, singing is God’s tool to form us into spiritual worshipers who will live differently to the world around us. We will conform more and more to the thinking and behaviour patterns of God Himself.

Spiritual worship is not done merely by singing songs in church.  Our singing should be geared to making us more “holy and acceptable to God”, which is what spiritual worship truly is.

Continue to chew over and digest the Scriptures we have been studying: Deuteronomy 31,32; Ephesians 5:18-20; Colossians 3:16 and Romans 12:1,2.

So, what kind of songs make us better worshipers?

Such songs will have this profile:

  1. a) They will be sung to “one another”.
  2. b) They will “teach the Word of Christ”
  3. c) They will “admonish/correct” us
  4. d) They will “de-conform” us from the world
  5. e) They will “transform” us to live God’s will

Use this matrix when choosing the songs for your Sunday song-list.  And if you are not a chooser, then show this column to your song-leader and pastor.

There are, of course, other criteria such as singability, suitability to the service theme, and compatibility with the congregation, etc.

You will probably ask this important question: If the congregation is “singing to one another” as they did in Deuteronomy, Ephesians and Colossians, is there no place for praising God for His attributes and actions?

Yes, there is!  In that Song of Moses, there are many stanzas that describe who God is, and others that remind the singers of what God has done.  Both Ephesians and Colossians emphasise the need to “thank God the Father through Jesus” (Eph. 5:20  and Col. 3:17.

Such praise and thanksgiving are full of “teaching” about the kind of God He is and how He rules His world. Praise and thanksgiving fulfil the role of teaching, as well as the obvious roles of praise and thanksgiving to God Himself.

See how the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32) does this: Ascriptions of praise and descriptions of God that “teach” us about His nature are found in vv 4,6,21,22, 34-43.

Reminders of God’s actions that prompt “thanksgiving”: vv 7-14, 34-36, 39, 43

In addition, there are stanzas which convict the singers of their sinful rebellion against God, and these “admonish” them as they sing, causing them to feel their guilt and repent.

So these features can and should be present in the songs we sing, even when their primary purpose is “to teach and admonish” (Colossians 3:16).

As I write this, I longingly pray that your congregational singing will “be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you discern what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” — Romans 12:1,2

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